It is generally recognised that breast milk is better for a new born baby due to the nutritious value and strength building benefits that support your baby's immune system in a way that formula milk can't. It is advised by The Department of Health to breastfeed for at least 6 months.
However there has been research by the Medical Research Council that has found that breastfeeding may actually make babies 'grumpier', with bottle-fed babies sleeping easier and being happier, smilier babies.
But pro-breastfeeding experts say that while this may be the case, mums shouldn't be too quick to reach for the bottle as this behaviour is a baby's way of bonding with their mum and instead, new parents should seek advice from their health visitor before choosing not to breastfeed.
It's a big decision with a lot of things to weigh up. When deciding what's best for you and your baby consider the pros and cons and be sure to talk through your plans and get advice from your health visitor as well.
Pros of breast feeding
- Your breast milk contains the perfect amount of nutrition and hydration to build your baby's immune system which contributes towards fending off illness and making them as strong as possible.
- Breast milk is free! Considering how expensive baby's are, this is a huge win in the finance department as they drink A LOT of milk.
- Breast milk is readily available whenever your baby needs it, which means no carrying bottles or sterilising equipment around with you.
- It's a chance to bond with your baby and get to know them, spending special quality time with them.
Cons of breast feeding
- It can make some mothers uncomfortable and they dislike doing it, especially in public.
- Your breasts can become engorged, swollen and generally painful.
- Nipples can crack or bleed and be quite painful.
Pros of bottle feeding
- If your breasts are in pain or you have developed mastitis, bottle feeding will be a welcome relief. It's more important to be a happy, healthy mum than to force yourself to do something painful.
- You can share feeding - yay! No longer is the pressure all on you, your partner or family are just as capable of feeding your baby so you can get some rest.
- You can measure exactly how much milk your baby is drinking every day. If they're draining each bottle and still crying for more it could mean they're going through a growth spurt or if they don't their usual amount they may be feeling poorly.
- You can now buy ready-made formula milk, microwave sterilisers and a huge number of anti-colic teats and bottles all designed to make bottle feeding a quicker, easier and happier experience for both of you.
Cons of bottle feeding
- Formula doesn't have the same nutritional benefits as breast milk for your baby.
- Formula is expensive and can cause an added strain on your already newly hectic lifestyle because of the hassle it takes to organise the equipment, sterilise, prepare and carry around the bottles.